2021-12-02  Prasanthi Naidoo


Recently we engaged a new client at healthjobhub.com, seeking help to recruit family physicians for their new medical clinics, the first of which is scheduled to open in October 2021 in NW Calgary AB. My client was interested in tapping into as many channels of supply of physicians including International Medical Graduates (IMGs). I reached out to my network at Alberta Health Services (AHS) looking for support and guidance in relation to physician recruitment for independent medical clinics in Alberta. Here's what I learnt:

AHS is only one player in physician recruitment in Alberta and in the health system overall. In Primary/Community Care in particular, there are many operators of clinics with a range of care models from very episodic to very aligned with a medical home model. There are also a range of organizations who are committed to seeing strategic improvement in the quality of primary care Albertans receive across all the dimensions of quality of care.

My initial understanding was that only AHS could help recruit to rural communities in Alberta for example approve sponsorship of IMG physicians to these locations... So I clarified this understanding with Alberta Health Services directly. My understanding was incorrect. AHS generally has no role in rural, independent clinic recruitment. The only role AHS has with an independent clinic recruitment would to be to consider a request by the clinic for sponsorship for College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) practice readiness assessment for the position.

Sponsored positions are only relevant when a clinic has been unable to provide a sufficiently attractive recruitment opportunity to obtain physicians with nationally recognized credentials and so are therefore eligible for independent practice registration by the CPSA without special additional steps which take additional physician and financial resources. The Government of Alberta (GoA) has a range of financial supports and incentives for physicians in general which are very competitive when compared to other provinces. The GoA also provides additional programs to support remote, rural and northern communities as well.

The CPSA can only perform a finite number of assessments each year (which is more than other provinces do if they even offer them at all). The supply of physicians in Canada has improved greatly in the last 20 years such that there are many underemployed physicians in Canada. Even though physician supply is generally better, there are still specific communities in Alberta that remain under-resourced with higher priority needs. The Government of Alberta is responsible for managing the provincial physician fee for service budget. For each of these four reasons, AHS makes decisions to sponsor positions very carefully and only sponsors limited numbers that are most impactful for patients at greatest need of incremental recruitment.

In most rural/remote contexts where a position is being requested for sponsorship, AHS would expect a commitment to include hospital medicine as part of their primary care practice, that the primary care practice is designed around the medical home to provide effective continuity of care, that the addition of the sponsored position won’t detrimentally affect the medical home of other patients in the community/surroundings (which generally requires cooperation with other local clinics) and that reasonable efforts have been made to recruit a qualified physician who doesn’t need the extra Practice Readiness Assessment resources that a sponsored position needs.

Specific details about the sponsorship process are available here:https://www.doctorjobsalberta.com/clinics.aspx. For clinics who wish to submit a completed proposal for a specific medical position for AHS consideration, that proposal would be submitted to respective Zone Medical Affairs team to be considered against all other recruitment needs in that zone.

Again, sponsorship is only required if a physician hasn’t met national training standards to be eligible for provincial registration. A clinic who has already found physicians with Royal College or CCFP fellowship and completion of LMCC requirements wouldn’t need sponsorship at all. And sponsorship only temporarily defers the need to obtain fellowship and LMCC.

An entrepreneurial clinic may be able to find ways to tap into underemployed physician ranks and/or to support those without fellowship initially to obtain it before they start working and so avoid the sponsorship need entirely.

Special Thanks to Jamie Rice , Executive Director, Provincial Medical Affairs, Alberta Health Services for your help and guidance in relation to physician recruitment in Alberta.

It is certainly not an easy task to find qualified physician candidates for new independent medical clinics however with the help of technology we at healthjobhub.com are continually innovating trying to find new ways to reach qualified candidates at scale.

For physicians interested in new practice opportunities please checkout: https://healthjobhub.com for some excellent new opportunities to consider.

Warm regards,

Prasanthi | Founder | healthjobhub.com